Posted on September 28, 2018
By Liza Verbeek, Marketing Intern at Pure! Ecuador
After a long bus ride from Quito, my friend and I arrived at the small coastal town of Puerto Lopez early in the morning. A town that does not look like much at a first glance, but appeared to be a place you will not want to leave again. With a tuk tuk we were taken to our cozy hostel.
Later that day, the tuk tuks took us to the beach of Puerto Lopez, with beach bars and restaurants as far as you could see. This really put us in a vacation mode right away. Each bar offers a wide variety of drinks and even though they serve different kinds of food, being in a fishermen’s town, seafood is something you would not want to miss! Looking at the sea and seeing the many fishing boats, we just knew the food was super fresh.
In the afternoon, we decided to travel to the nearby indigenous community of Agua Blanca, located in Machalilla National Park. We were transported back in time by the stories the local guide told us with great enthusiasm about the grounds while guiding us through the small museum that displayed the findings. After a short visit to the museum, the guide took us out for a hike through the forest. Here, we were lucky enough to encounter some special bird species while listening to interesting stories of the knowledgeable guide.
The final destination of the hike was a beautiful lagoon where you want to dive in right when you set your eyes on it. However, before we could dive into the refreshing water, we were offered a cup of mud that was taken from the lagoon. You can put it all over your body as a scrub, but we decided to use it as a facemask – our skin became super soft! With our facemasks still on, we took a dip into the relatively cold water of the lagoon and enjoyed the serenity around us.
The next day, we set out on our tour to the nearby island of Isla de la Plata. This beautiful island is also known as ´poor man´s Galapagos´ and it completely lives up to this name. It takes about one hour by boat to reach the island from Puerto Lopez, and on the way there we had the opportunity to spot whales! In Ecuador, it is whale season between July and September. It was truly amazing to see those majestic animals jump out of the water, and trying to spot them is a real thrill. Trying to take good pictures of one of their jumps was a bit more challenging, but luckily we managed to make a few good ones!
When we arrived at the island, the beach was full of bright-orange crabs. We followed the guide on a hike of about two hours around the island. During the hike we were able to spot numerous insects, snakes, birds, and ‘piqueros de patas azules’, in English known as the blue-footed boobies! There were so many of these birds, it almost made the island colored white and blue.
After the hike, we returned to the boat, where we were surprised by delicious sandwiches and fresh fruit. Just when the captain wanted to start the engine, a group of sea turtles swam under our boat – what a sight! There were so many of them!
And the surprises did not end with the sea turtles; a bit later we saw a big dark shadow approaching the boat. This turned out to be a manta ray of more than 5 meters wide! The guides were so enthusiastic to see this animal that we realized we were very lucky to witness this.
Only when the manta ray was far out of sight we started our boat trip to the other side of the island, where we had the opportunity to snorkel. With the big manta still in mind, I was a bit scared to dive in at first. However, I realized very fast that I could not miss out on such an amazing opportunity. I gathered my courage and dived into the surprisingly pleasant ocean water – and amazing it was! As far as we could see there were bright colored fish looking like they belonged in a nature movie. We were also able to spot another couple of smaller manta´s swimming over the ocean floor and we got to follow a sea turtle swimming along the coastline of the island.
We were all a bit sad when it was time to leave, because I think everyone would agree if I say that we could have swam around there for a few more hours. However, our sadness did not last long, because not even fifteen minutes after we left the island, we were rewarded with another group of whales! Having already snapped good pictures on the way to the island, I took the time to truly enjoy watching the magnificent animals.
Unfortunately, this was already the end of our trip to Puerto Lopez. After a last wonderful seafood meal, we boarded the bus to go back to Quito.